Being an online publisher is hard to begin with. Being at the mercy of search traffic, fluctuations in Ad prices, and constantly searching to find new topics to write about can be challenging. Convincing a landlord that your income is stable, because your rent comes from a huge dependable company like Google can help with that. But what happens when Google fails to pay?
Google has been attempting to roll out a new “prettier” dashboard for AdSense, and it doesn’t appear that the transition has been going smoothly. Over the last 2 months Google has had pretty significant issues related to payment processing in AdSense. First they flagged a few thousand accounts as “ON HOLD” when they weren’t and then they failed to pay out earnings for September.
While display issues are annoying, failing to pay online publishers who earn revenue from the ads that appear on their pages, or along side their content on YouTube is putting quite a damper on publishers around the web. Many of the publishers live pretty close to pay check to pay check, and their earnings are not “pure profit”, hosting bills, ads they purchase, production costs all have to be paid out of those earnings, so when they are late they risk not only being late on rent, but on hosting.
Several of the publishers who haven’t been paid pointed out that their landlords can often be forgiving when what they view as an “employer” doesn’t make pay roll and a check is late, but hosting providers are rarely so forgiving. While you can live in a card board box, if your servers go dark you won’t get next months rent either.
AdSense publishers aren’t employees though. They aren’t even contractors. The payments are for placement in the website’s inventory. So there won’t be a union uprising. No picket lines, and as of writing this I couldn’t even find press coverage. The Geographically diverse group of unpaid publishers range from Albany to Zurich and most have never met each other.
If I had not been contacted by two clients who buy services from me, I don’t think I would have noticed that my check was late. While I am still earning money from AdSense, the last time AdSense had issues I decided I would diversify my revenue sources. Microsoft PubCenter now is my primary ad provider, and while they don’t always match the earning potential of Google, they provide a phone number I can call and talk to a real human. Microsoft also sends a confirmation with every email you send them and typically follow up with in the hour.
Google’s AdSense on the other hand only offers support through their support forum, and after 96 hours the only response to email requests for support or status update was an automated response thanking me for making support aware of the issue.